The burial places, or Shrines, of Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and other sites associated with their lives are revered as holy places.
The Shrines are located at the Bahá’í World Centre in the Haifa/‘Akká area in northern Israel and are the object of pilgrimage for thousands of Bahá’ís annually.
Bahá’í Houses of Worship
As gathering places for prayer and meditation, Bahá’í Houses of Worship are buildings that most closely approximate the place of the church, the temple or the mosque in other religions. Yet they are also something more.
As envisioned by Bahá’u’lláh, local Houses of Worship will someday be the focal point for a community’s spiritual life–and an expression of its humanitarian concern.
So far, seven Houses of Worship have been built–at least one on each continent, a token of the Faith’s global progress. At the present stage of the Faith’s development, Bahá’ís have focused on creating and developing the social and spiritual institutions of community life rather than on the construction of physical buildings in every community. Yet those Houses of Worship which have been constructed stand as beacons calling the world to a new mode of religious worship and life.
Each temple has its own distinctive design, and yet conforms to a set of architectural requirements that give a unifying theme. All Bahá’í Houses of Worship must have nine sides and a central dome.
The first Bahá’í House of Worship in the West was completed in 1953, in Wilmette, Illinois, U.S.A., on the shores of Lake Michigan, just north of Chicago. Its filigree dome and extraordinary ornamentation combine features drawn from the architectural styles of both East and West, and it has attracted millions of visitors over the years.
The Mother Temple of Africa is situated on Kikaaya Hill, in Kawempe Division, in northern Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. The architect of the building, Charles Mason Remey, worked closely with Shoghi Effendi in developing the design.Its foundation stone was laid in January 1958, and it was dedicated on January 13, 1961.
The design of the Temple harmonizes closely with the landscape. In its profile the Temple resembles the shape of a traditional African hut. Its flaring eaves create a circular porch on the lowest exterior level of the building, providing protection from the seasonal extremes of weather chill winds, driving rains, dust, and high heat common to the area.
The Temple in Sydney, Australia was dedicated on September 17, 1961 and opened to the public after four years of construction. It serves as the Mother Temple of the Australian Continent .The initial design by Charles Mason Remey was approved in 1957, and given to Sydney architect John Brogan to develop and complete. Construction materials include local hardwoods and concrete surmounted by a dome, with seating for six hundred people. The building stands 38 metres in height, has a diameter at its widest point of 20 metres, and is a highly visible landmark from Sydney’s northern beaches.
The surrounding gardens contain native plants including waratahs, several grevillea including the unique caleyi, the native pea, wattle and woody pear, plus three species of eucalypts.
The Mother Temple of Europe is located at the foot of the Taunus Mountains of Germany, in the village of Langenhain, in the Frankfurt suburb of Hofheim, Hesse. It was designed by Teuto Rocholl. It was completed in 1964 and is made of steel, aluminium, and glass. 540 diamond-shaped windows give the dome an optical lightness and permit the sunlight to play in it. The outstanding characteristic acoustics of this setting are created by the reverberation within the dome and the resonance of its myriad window ledges. Choirs here sometimes sing while standing around the circumference of the temple floor, with the audience in the center.
The Bahá’í temple in Panama City, Panama, completed 1972, designed by Peter Tillotson. It serves as the mother temple of Latin America . It is perched on a high cliff, “Cerro Sonsonate” (“Singing Hill”), overlooking the city, and is constructed of local stone laid in a pattern reminiscent of Native American fabric designs.
The dome is covered with thousands of small oval tiles, and the entrance gates of the temple are constructed in a unique three-dimensional design each consisting of an equilateral triangle of three vertical posts with multiple rows of bars stretching between them at various angles, each row of which gradually changes from vertical to horizontal.
The Bahá’í House of Worship in Tiapapata, 8 km from Apia, Samoa, was completed in 1984 and serves as the Mother Temple of the Pacific Islands . The design was by Hossein Amanat, and was dedicated by Malietoa Tanumafili II, King of Samoa (1913–2007), who was the first reigning Bahá’í monarch. Its 30-meter domed structure is open to the public for individual prayer, commemoration of Baha’i holy days, and weekly devotional meetings. The structure is completely open to the island breezes.
The Bahá’í temple in Delhi, India was completed in 1986 and serves as the Mother Temple of the Indian subcontinent . Since that time the structure has won numerous architectural awards and been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. Inspired by the lotus flower, its design is composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad “petals”–arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. Nine doors open onto a central hall, capable of holding up to 2,500 people. Slightly more than 40 meters tall, its surface luminous, the temple at times seems to float above its 26-acre site on the outskirts of the Indian capital. In a few short years the New Delhi temple has become one of the world’s major attractions, drawing more than two and a half million visitors a year. On Hindu holy days, it has drawn as many as 100,000–so revered is the Bahá’í temple by India’s people, whatever their religious background.
The Bahá’í House of Worship for the South American Continent
Santiago, Chile, South America
In Santiago, work commences on House of Worship’s superstructure – 27 November 2013